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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Culinary School - Session 19: Puff Pastry Introduction - Classic Puff Pastry and Quick Puff Pastry

Culinary School: Session 19 (09.29.14)

Puff Pastry Introduction - Classic Puff Pastry and Quick Puff Pastry

You want French? I'll give you French...

When it comes to pastry classics, nothing screams Parisian Cafe like puff pastry or Pate Feuilletee. Pate Feuilletee literally means "leaved dough", which is a reference to the pastry's characteristic multitude of thin flaky layers, achieved through a process of repeated folds.

Like Pate a Choux, Pate Feuilletee is an extremely versatile dough. It has a neutral, butter-rich flavor that is perfect for both sweet and savory applications. Those who love butter but dislike the eggy overtones of Pate a Choux will likely find Pate Feuilletee a welcome improvement.

The historical origins of Pate Feuilletee are fuzzy (seems to be a trend in food history), but the modern version of Pate Feuilletee is attributed to Antonin Careme who reportedly formalized the "six turn" process circa 1806.

Book Turned Puff Pastry Dough

Six turns is a reference to the number of times the Pate Feuilletee is folded - a process that creates layers of butter in between layers of dough.

Each "letter turn", or single turn, produces three layers of butter in between layers of dough. Six single turns therefore yields 729 layers of butter (3^6 = 729) between 730 layers of dough for 1,459 layers of flaky goodness.

The more turns you make, the more layers that are formed. The more layers that are formed, the flakier the pastry.

When the Pate Feuilletee bakes, the water in the dough (and comparatively trace amounts of water in the butter) turns into steam and puffs the individual layers. As the protein structure of the dough forms in the heat, the individual layers are set. This process of mechanical leavening is sometimes referred to as aeration through lamination.

Laminating is the process of wrapping the dough (the Detrampe) around a block of butter (the Beurrage) to form the Paton. The laminated Paton is what is rolled out and folded through a process referred to as Tourage (shown above).

Aeration through lamination is a truly unique leavening process because there are no eggs, yeast or chemical leaveners involved. It is 100% dependent upon layers of butter and steam to create the massive rise... which can be up to a 10x. Given the importance of butter in creating the individual layers, it's no surprised that Pate Feuilletee requires a quantity of butter that is 50%-100% of the weight of the flour. Now that's enriched dough!

- Ingredients Running Tally -

This session was just the introduction to an entire unit dedicated to Pate Feuilletee.

The good news: With an entire unit dedicated to Pate Feuilletee, there will be so many amazing puff pastries in the weeks to come.

The bad news: With so much technique and theory to cover, there were no completed products made during this session... just lots and lots of dough prep.

Whether you see the glass as half full or half empty, there's one thing we'll have to agree on: this is a glass full of butter. Pate Feuilletee calls for kilos and kilos of butter. Be prepared to watch that counter climb.

Ingredients used to date (09.29.14):
  • Flour: 7,175g
  • Eggs: 4,050g (81x)
  • Sugar: 4,600g
  • Butter: 4,635g
  • Milk/Cream: 3,900g

- The Recipes -

A sad case indeed, but with so much introductory information to cover this session, there were no finished products at the end of class. For once, I rode the subway back home empty handed.  

No worries. Earlier in the morning, I made about 200 cream puffs as part of my weekly volunteer baking for the soup kitchen at Crossroads Community Services in New York City

And I was also able to enjoy a 12:27am dinner of profiteroles thanks to an abundance of leftover exam-prep Pate a Choux.

Cream Puffs



Classic Puff Pastry (Pate Feuilletee Classique)

While time consuming by any measure, this classic preparation results in a crisp, buttery pastry with many distinct layers and an even rise. There are no shortcuts here - six single turns with rests in between are required to form those 1,459 perfect layers! 

Focus Techniques:
- Forming the Detrampe - a simple dough made of flour, salt, Beurre en Pommade and water. 
- Forming the Beurrage - a block of cold butter that is beaten into a soft square. The amount of butter used in Pate Feuilletee Classique is typically 50-100% the weight of the flour.
- Forming the Paton - a package of Beurrage wrapped (i.e. laminated) in the Detrampe.
- Tourage - the process of folding, turning and rolling the Paton. Rolling the Paton requires short, single direction movements with the rolling pin to preserve layers and minimize gluten development. When rolling the dough, it is important to keep the width consistent with straight sides and well-formed corners. 
- Assouplir - the process of gently beating the Paton to an appropriately soft (but not too soft) texture before rolling. 
- Letter Fold - also referred to as a single fold, a letter fold creates three layers of butter between four layers of dough.
- Only cutting laminated dough with a very sharp, non-aerated knife to prevent layers from sealing and sticking together at the edges, which would inhibit the rise.
- Keeping egg wash off edges to ensure even rise, which can also seal the edges and inhibit the rise.
- Making Demi-Feuilletage from scraps of Pate Feuilletee by gently layering the individual pieces for storage and reuse.
- Baking Pate Feuilletee only after the pastry has been chilled to prevent the butter from melting before the layers set.


Quick Puff Pastry (Feuilletage Rapide)

Less tender and flaky than classic puff pastry, the quick method is best suited for encased preparations, tart bases and other small pastries where an even rise is not as critical. The time saved in making Quick Puff Pastry comes from making fewer turns (whereas Classic Puff Pastry requires six single turns, Quick Puff Pastry uses four double turns).  

Focus Techniques:
- Forming the Paton with a mix of dough and frozen, cubed butter.
- Book Fold - also referred to as a double fold (although that is a mathematical misnomer), a book fold is a layering shortcut that creates four layers of butter between five layers of dough.

Take a look at the full syllabus

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